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What does this winter have in store for Kansas City? This NOAA outlook gives a hint

·4 min read

Good news for those who hate the cold of winter — you might not be bundling up in as many layers of clothing this year in the Kansas City area.

It’s looking like the Kansas City area will have a warmer than normal winter season this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center’s winter outlook. This is the second winter in a row that La Nina climate conditions have emerged.

The agency is favoring above normal temperatures for the Kansas City area, as well as Kansas and Missouri, said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operational prediction branch of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

This U.S. Winter Outlook 2021-2022 map for temperature shows warmer-than-average conditions across the South and most of the eastern U.S., while below average temperatures are favored for southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest eastward to the Northern Plains
This U.S. Winter Outlook 2021-2022 map for temperature shows warmer-than-average conditions across the South and most of the eastern U.S., while below average temperatures are favored for southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest eastward to the Northern Plains

As for whether it will be snowier or wetter in Kansas City this year, that’s hard to tell.

“There’s a little bit more uncertainty with the precipitation because you’re in the kind of the border between where we see typical on average impacts with precipitation,” Gottschalck said.

Areas near and to the east of Kansas City, moving towards the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, are expected to have above average precipitation. Most of Missouri will likely see above average precipitation.

Meanwhile areas to the south of Kansas City are expected to be drier. Kansas City and areas to the north fall in an area where the uncertainty is high and the climate signals are less reliable, he said.

Later in the winter season, however, the Climate Prediction Center expects drier conditions to start to expand north and east from Texas and include parts of Kansas, northeast Colorado and parts of Nebraska.

This 2021-2022 U.S. Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in parts of the North, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska. Drier-than-average conditions are favored in south-central Alaska, southern California, the Southwest, and the Southeast.
This 2021-2022 U.S. Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in parts of the North, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska. Drier-than-average conditions are favored in south-central Alaska, southern California, the Southwest, and the Southeast.

It’s too far out to predict whether Kansas City will see a return of the extreme cold like it saw in February of last winter, including rolling power outages.

“We’re just not able to make that prediction,” Gottschalck said. “Actually, the general conditions for La Nina would make that typically less possible, but again as we saw last year, it can still occur.”

Kansas City typically gets 18.2 inches of snow each year, with the majority of that falling in the months of December, January and February.

Kansas City typically sees an average maximum temperature of 42.3 degrees in December, 38.4 in January and 43.6 in February. The average minimum temperate is 23.9 degrees in December, 19.5 in January and 23.6 in February.

Nationwide, the winter outlook, which extends from December through February, is favoring above average temperatures across the south and most of the eastern U.S. with the return of La Nina. Wetter than average conditions are expected across portions of the northern U.S., primarily in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska.

Here’s some highlights from the outlook:

  • Warmer-than-average conditions are most likely across the southern part of the U.S. and much of the eastern U.S. with the greatest likelihood of above-average temperatures in the southeast.

  • Below-average temperatures are favored for southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest eastward to the northern Plains.

  • The Upper Mississippi Valley and small areas of the Great Lakes have equal chances for below, near or above average temperatures.

  • The Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes and parts of the Ohio Valley and western Alaska have the greatest chances for wetter-than-average conditions.

  • Drier-than-average conditions are favored in south-central Alaska, southern California, the southwest, and the southeast.

  • The forecast for the remainder of the U.S. shows equal chances for below, near or above average precipitation during winter months.

Meanwhile, widespread severe to exceptional drought continues over the western half of the nation, northern Plains and Missouri River Basin. Drought conditions are forecast to persist and develop in the southwest and southern Plains. In the Pacific Northwest, northern California, upper Midwest and Hawaii, drought conditions are expected to improve.

Unlike weather forecasts, NOAA’s seasonal outlooks do not project seasonal snowfall accumulations. Rather, they provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above, near or below average as well as how drought conditions are anticipated to change in the months ahead.

The seasonal outlooks are intended to help communities prepare for what is likely to come in the months ahead and minimize weather’ impacts on lives and livelihoods.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month, with the next update available Nov. 19.

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